Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

A Revamped G20 and the United Nations

What these multi-stakeholder groups and their potential volunteers need are policy leaders who can generate the political, social, and economic enthusiasm to get things moving. In WEF’s view, nation-state leadership can best be provided by an institutionalized G20, a body that weaves together the G7/G8 countries with leading nation-states of the global South. A revamped G20, in WEF’s view, ought to provide permanent rotating seats at the table for the most powerful Southern nation-states of the day, rather than continuing the G7/G8 practice of extending ad hoc invitations to a varying collection of developing countries. GRI makes a number of other recommendations on how to institutionalize the G20 leadership role with other nation-states and major multilateral institutions. The hope is that the G20 can have sufficient public and informal gravitas to define the way new issues ought to be addressed and can exert dynamic governmental leadership to implement the decisions via relevant multistakeholder teams.

The United Nations system can play four crucial new roles in this environment. It can participate in various ways as a player in appropriate multistakeholder coalitions outside of the UN system. It can provide its ‘blessing’ or acquiescence to global public-private partnerships (PPPs) and their outcomes. The United Nations system can also address those global issues that are not being handled by multistakeholder coalitions or by the G20. And it can open its doors for non-state Actors, particularly those concerned multinational corporations, to help develop UN’s own policies and to help deliver UN programs in developing countries. One of GRI’s major analytic arguments is that, by incorporating executives of multinational enterprises and selected civil society leaders inside the formal leadership of global institutions, there will be an increase in the effectiveness of the global institutions and legitimacy of globalization itself.

In this manner, the strengths of all the major global Actors can be engaged on global issues through global public private partnerships; the Actors in these multistakeholder coalitions can be those, including the UN system, who have the interest and capacity to volunteer to work on an issue; the key G20 countries can provide leadership and solutions for matters of greatest urgency for them; and the UN system, with new support from the multistakeholder community, can attend to the  remainder of issues that need a legitimate international home.

In this way, WEF re-casts the UN Charter’s role for non-governmental organizations as consultants to nation-states into a new multi-stakeholder governance structure that puts non-state Actors at the same level as governments. GRI moves from the current blended system of international hard and soft law into one where voluntary international undertakings can take center stage. And GRI sees ways to make the United Nations system, at both the intergovernmental level and the secretariat level, more intertwined with corporate suites and the civil society world.

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples and commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective.

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